08 April 2006

Timeout Instrumental hits

In the previous post, I noted that Timeout Instrumentals weren't usually hits, and often came from from LPs, EPs and B-sides.

In a comment below, John G. suggested one exception, Love Is Blue (L'amour est bleu) by French orchestra leader Paul Mauriat (#1 USA, #12 UK, #1 Australia, #4 NZ). It was written by Andre Popp, initially as a 1967 Eurovision Song Contest entry sung by Vicky Leandros with lyrics by Pierre Cour.

No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach's In) by The T-bones (1966), and Classical Gas by Mason Williams (1968) were both hits (Classical Gas even has its own website), but I'd be surprised if they weren't also used as Timeout Instrumentals.

Another example, and a mystery, is The Harem by British clarinettist and bandleader Mr Acker Bilk (right) and his Paramount Jazz Band. It was a hit in Australia in 1964 (#2 Melbourne, #4 Sydney, #3 Adelaide) but failed to chart in the UK, and for some reason it's just about impossible to find on the dozens of easy-to-find Acker Bilk compilations. All Music Guide lists four pages of Acker Bilk songs, but doesn't mention it. It is, however, listed as a 1963 British single at 45-rpm.co.uk.

The Harem
is a standout amongst Acker Bilk's recordings, a stirring, whirling, percussive instro that builds to a climax. It has a little "pip" on the clarinet a second or so before the end that always sounds to me like the first of the time pips that would've followed a Timeout Instrumental.

I'm wondering whether The Harem started out in Australia being played as a Timeout Instrumental and caught the attention of listeners, who turned it into a hit. Just a hunch, there, but I do remember it being played as a Timeout. (For more on The Harem, see Only in Oz (1).

The Spartans, by Beatles associates Sounds Incorporated (1964), was another British instro that did better in Australia than in Britain. This is a moody, brass-dominated piece that charted #5 Sydney, #3 Melbourne, #10 Brisbane, and peaked at #30 in the UK. It was written by the chart-topping British pianist Russ Conway, using his real name, Trevor Stanford.

Again, The Spartans was probably used as a Timeout Instrumental, but its success was no doubt helped along by Sounds Incorporated playing on The Beatles 1964 Australian tour.

No comments: